Becoming a grandparent is a great new adventure that can bring lots of joy but also plenty of challenges. In addition to the caring, the playing and the cuddling, you also need to respect the parents’ way of parenting all while remembering how to change the kids’ diapers, amongst other things. Here are 8 ways to help you be a great grandparent and to avoid certain behaviors, while at the same time enjoying precious moments with your grandchildren.
Don’t start a competition with the other grandparents
“Why does she always buy them new toys?”: criticizing the other grandparents or wanting to buy more clothes or toys for the little one than they do, in order to make your grandchildren love you more, is far from necessary.
This is not a competition. This is a child who is loved very much by all members of the family. Accept that the other grandparents are there too, and, even if they behave differently, remember that you have something more important in common: your love for your grandchildren.
Although you might be as nervous as your children are about starting a new life with a child, it’s not a reason to add more stress to their emotions. It’s normal to be a little anxious, but keep any negative feelings to yourself, and instead try to just be reassuring and supportive.
Don’t be patronizing with your children
You can give them a few wise pieces of advice from time to time but don’t push it. Your children are adults now and they’d surely prefer to manage their personal life themselves. Even if you feel that you have more experience, you should banish phrases such as “You should do this” or “I wouldn’t do that if I were you” from your vocabulary. If you’re not careful, you could easily hurt their feelings and make them angry at you.
Prepare your home for your grandchildren
If you are a man or a woman over 50, it may have been many years since you last changed a diaper. Additionally, ways of doing certain things, for instance, what to feed a baby, as well as where they can sleep, may well be different now than they were when your kids were little.
You’ll also need to relearn and remember a few key things, such as how to prepare a baby bottle. Don’t worry though, these skills are like riding a bike and will surely come back to you easily. Don’t forget, also, to baby-proof your home. Your children will appreciate the forethought and feel reassured when baby is staying at your place.
Don’t try to be the parent
You’re not the parent, you’re the grandparent. Therefore, it’s not your role to decide how to raise the kids. If you disagree with some parenting decisions, keep your opinions to yourself (unless you feel that your grandchild is in danger, of course). Additionally, it’s advisable to talk with the parents about their rules and the limits they’ve set in order to ensure that the kids respect them when they are with you. Children need consistency and a routine.
Don’t spoil your grandkids too much
As much as you love them and want to make them as happy as they can be, be careful not to spoil them too much. You don’t need to shower them with gifts all the time and buy them everything they ask for when you go to the supermarket together.
You can, of course, treat them from time to time, but you might want to check first with their parents to see if it’s okay to buy them a few more toys. Even if you might be tempted to help your own kids purchase stuff that they can’t afford, be careful, as this might make them feel like they can’t manage on their own.
Offer the parents’ a break
As you well know, being a parent can be exhausting, particularly when the kids are little. Therefore, why not offer them a little break by taking the grandchildren off their hands for a week or two? Your child and her/his partner will surely appreciate the chance to take some well-deserved vacation or just to spend a little time together.
Manage the distance
Perhaps your daughter or your son live far away from you, maybe even in a foreign country. Unfortunately, the distance inevitably reduces your chances of seeing your grandchildren often. The advantage is that you might have them for the whole holiday rather than just for a Sunday lunch.
However, the time between visits can feel really long and you may get the impression that your are missing out on lots of precious moments. They grow up so fast!
The good thing is that, today, we have a multitude of options when it comes to staying in touch: instant messaging via Facebook or What’s App, video-calls via Skype, in addition to the more traditional phone call or email. Make the most of these new technologies in order to maintain that special bond. Additionally, staying actively connected can contribute to making seniors happier.
Apart from the talking and chatting, you can also share pictures and funny videos with them. Additionally, you can play online games thanks to apps or dedicated websites. It’s a good way to teach your grandkids a game that you enjoy, and they, in turn, will be more than enthusiastic to do the same with you!